\ˈfes \
fessed; fessing; fesses

Definition of fess 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to own up : confess usually used with up


\ˈfes \
variants: or less commonly fesse

Definition of fess (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a broad horizontal bar across the middle of a heraldic field

2 : the center point of an armorial escutcheon

Examples of fess in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The parent of Chicken of the Sea, a Thai company named Thai Union Group, promptly bailed out of the merger and fessed up to the Justice Department in return for amnesty from prosecution. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "The Bumble Bee tuna price-fixing case could point to the future of white-collar prosecutions," 24 May 2018 Finally, with his presidential campaign about to launch, Harding had to fess-up to the Republican National Committee about his predicament. Elaine Weiss, WSJ, "Presidential Hush Money, Circa 1920," 31 May 2018 Warren East, the embattled British company’s chief executive, fessed up this month that replacing faulty turbine blades in engines on 787s will cost it £580m ($800m) over the next two years. The Economist, "The world’s three biggest engine-makers hit a snag," 22 Mar. 2018 Those familiar with the process wouldn’t fess up to which tweets were staff-written. Annie Linskey, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump’s tweets include grammatical errors. And some are on purpose," 22 May 2018 Jessica fishes around to see if any of her friends are getting similar threats, but no one fesses up. refinery29.com, "R29 Binge Club: 13 Reasons Why, Season 2," 18 May 2018 In the letters section, the book's creative team (Sebela, artist Robert Wilson IV and colorist Nick Filardi) all fessed up to their biggest crimes, and Sebela's was doing acid. Will Nevin, OregonLive.com, "WW #100: Writer Eliot Rahal's 'Hot Lunch Special' more 'real' with story of family -- and crime," 15 May 2018 That's laudably fast; remember, Uber took over a year to fess up to its data-theft woes. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "The Under Armour Hack Was Even Worse Than It Had To Be," 30 Mar. 2018 When cops arrived to Reed's home, Reed allegedly fessed up to making the threats. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "A former college linebacker threatened members of the Cowboys; a Florida SWAT team raided his home | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 4 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Not until after the game -- LSU beat South Carolina 6-4 to stay alive in the SEC Tournament -- did Peterson fess up. Christopher Dabe, NOLA.com, "Todd Peterson's high school coach tells truth about LSU pitcher's hitting ability," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fess.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fess


1840, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fess


short for confess


Middle English fesse, from Anglo-French faisse band, from Latin fascia — more at fascia

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Learn More about fess

Dictionary Entries near fess


fescue foot




fess point

fess up

Statistics for fess

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Time Traveler for fess

The first known use of fess was in the 15th century

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More from Merriam-Webster on fess

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fess

Comments on fess

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full of whispering sounds

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